How One Band Rode Nascar and Bud Light to the Top

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LOS ANGELES -- The members of 3 Doors Down have proved to be as proficient at business as they are at music, cutting long-term co-marketing deals with Nascar and Anheuser-Busch Co. as a way to grow their fan base exponentially in about four years.
Photo: AP
The band's new album, 'Seventeen Days,' will be released Feb. 8.

Not relying on labels

The band is part of a growing movement among artists who are aggressively seeking out their own marketing partners and not relying solely on their labels for promotion. Matt Roberts, the guitarist in 3 Doors Down, said he and his bandmates took note several years ago of the consolidating record industry and the damage wrought by illegal downloading.

"You pretty quickly realize as a band that you need help to promote your shows and your records," Mr. Roberts said. "You have to pull some resources together."

3 Doors Down has sold 12 million records, had four Grammy nominations and racked up a slew of Billboard awards. A new CD called Seventeen Days is hitting stores Feb. 8 with a number of high-profile marketing tactics surrounding it. The group will perform during Super Bowl weekend next month and at the upcoming Daytona 500, through the band's corporate relationships.

Co-branded promotions

More than three years ago, the band developed a relationship with Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light that has included tour sponsorships, radio ads and special concerts. There have been numerous co-branded promotions at nightclubs and bars, as well as at mass retailers and liquor stores. 3 Doors Down has also appeared in several Bud Light commercials, including one that aired during ABC's Monday Night Football.

"They're [Anheuser-Busch] into developing artists, so it's not a one-time deal," Mr. Roberts said. "We were looking for a company to grow with."

For the upcoming record, Budweiser is launching a number of bar promotions, including 500,000 coasters that will hype the release and announce a sweepstakes that sends winners to a 3 Doors Down concert. Bud
Photo: AP
The band's new album, 'Seventeen Days,' will be released Feb. 8.

Light will sponsor the tour that starts later this year.

Budweiser's music industry ties

Budweiser has strong ties to the music industry, having sponsored acts such as Tim McGraw,
George Straight and the Rolling Stones. 3 Doors Down was especially appealing for its broad fan base.

"They're a very good fit with a wide variety of beer drinkers," said David Campbell, the brand's director of entertainment marketing. "They appeal to both men and women."

Working with Budweiser opened doors for a Nascar relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, who appeared in one of the band's music videos for a song called "The Road I'm On." Footage from that video is frequently played at 3 Doors Down's shows.

Co-marketing has included a 3 Doors Down car, live performances at racetracks, print and radio ads, Internet campaigns and merchandise. Nascar brought in the Speed Channel for additional exposure for the band. A newly designed 3 Doors Down car will appear again this year.

'User friendly band'

The band is "user friendly," said Ken Fermaglich, a talent agent at the Agency Group.

There's a strong incentive for the bands and their management to do sponsorship deals themselves instead of letting the label take the lead, Mr. Fermaglich said.

"The label's agenda might not be in synch with the artists' goals," he said. "It's one thing to get in bed with a Fortune 500 company, and it's another to
Photo: AP
The band's new album, 'Seventeen Days,' will be released Feb. 8.

live with the deal day after day. We can be very clear, when we do this ourselves, what the band is willing to do and not do."

Tougher than ever

Artists in general and 3 Doors Down in particular realize it's a competitive environment in which consumers can spend their entertainment dollars in many ways and becoming top-of-mind is tougher than ever, Mr. Fermaglich said.

Barry Frey, a consultant at Next Level Media and Marketing, said artists of all stripes are increasingly courting corporate sponsors. He's worked on such deals and currently is in talks with a number of marketers for a singer-songwriter named Kristin Diable.

"It's a way for the brands to get their messages out in an entertaining way, and the artist gets the exposure on the back of the brand," Mr. Frey said.

Finding the right connection is key, he said. "You have to match the psychographic and the sensibilities," he said. "You have to look at the brand elements that are similar."
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